Monthly Archives: May 2012

Spinner Ring Tutorial is Finished!

Well, I finally got it done. Not only that, but I also made kits that can be purchased so you don’t have to worry about cutting the metal to the width needed for this tutorial. I also added kits for the Lily Pendant and Cone Earrings. So check them all out and let me know what you think.
MelissaMuirSpinnerringsTutorial

The tutorial is just as in-depth and detailed as I usually am. So you know it will be easy to follow and understand.

This tutorial is not a beginner project. I do not go indepth about soldering basics. Please watch my introductory video on how to create a soldered band.

I have a kit for the Spinner Ring!

Spinnerringkit1

Don’t want to have to cut your own materials? This little kit is a great compliment to the tutorial. it includes:

  • 3 strips of 10mm wide copper that is 3 1/2″ long. I have cut this with my guillotine shear, so there is no need to remove any curves left by hand shears, or filing to do on the edges left by uneven cuts with a saw.
  • 12″ – 18 gauge Sterling Silver round wire.
  • Cost: only $8.50 and includes shipping (US Domestic.)
  • http://www.kcjewelbox.com/Spinner-Ring-Materials-Kit-Spinner-Ring-kit.htm

 

kit

I have also come up with an all inclusive materials kit for the Lily Pendant and Cone Earrings project.

New Jewelry Making Tools Coming

New swage blocks are coming! I went to Portland a couple of weeks ago to pick out some more Black Walnut. They didn’t have the same size wood I had used for my previous blocks, but the had some that were beautifully marbled and colored and slightly larger. So I changed the design of the block a little and added a few more shallow grooves. They were shipped to me today and I will post pictures of them next week once I have them.

In addition, I have just purchased a great tool called a drill press vise and I am loving it. I wish I had had one a long time ago. It would have saved my fingers a number of times. Watch for the video on that one soon, and the product will be available in my shop (in limited quantities.)

Moving…. Again…. New Tutorial

Well, I am running behind. I have a couple of videos that need the last bit of editing and they will be uploaded. So Tool Time Tuesday will be a bit late. Sigh, that seems to be my M-O lately. But there really is a good reason for it. We are MOVING! And hopefully this will be the LAST ONE!

We didn’t tell anyone about the house because we didn’t want to jinx it. But we made our offer, it was accepted. We did the inspection and it passed, and what didn’t is being fixed by the current owners. We even have all the loan paperwork in process. So it is all coming together. I hope I am not sorry for announcing this before we have actually closed on the house, because you never know. But I am hopeful and feeling really good about this one.

Yes, there is a studio. WOOHOO!!!! It is smaller than my last studio, but I think it will work with some modification. But here is what I like best… It has its own entrance! YAY! Nobody has to come in and see my messy house. The studio is a 1 bedroom apartment. There is a 1/2 bath and a full kitchen. I will be selling the stove and putting a kiln in its place (I think.) I haven’t decided if I should keep the microwave yet or not. But just wait until you see what I see when I look out the windows. Well, here, take a look….

studio_before
This picture is actually fairly deceiving. It isn’t as big as it looks. But still pretty cool huh?

studio_kitchen

Here is a bit better picture of the Kitchen. Check out the storage space! WOOT! And a DOUBLE SINK. I am in HEAVEN!

studio_window

Looking into the room from the kitchen area. That bump out there with the door is the 1/2 bathroom.

studio_window2

Straight ahead is where I will put my benches/student work spaces.

studio_before1

I wish this bedroom were as large as it looks. It is 9 x 13. So it is great, but still poses challenges.

studio_bedroom

Originally I was thinking the closet was larger. I was hoping to put the polishing machine in there… and I still might. Yup, that is Kiari. My how she has grown. (23 pounds and 2 1/2 feet tall. She has come a long way from 3 pounds and 16 inches long.)

waterfall1

Yes, that is the view from the studio. Now who wants to come and take a class?

So here are a few plans I have played with in laying out my existing tables and equipment.

studio_2

This drawing uses my bench as it is right now. but I don’t care for the workflow. It works, but isn’t the easiest.

studio_1

This is the plan I am leaning towards. I will have to modify my bench a bit, but the workflow is MUCH better. I am pretty sure I can get six students into this space comfortably with good workflow. My sand blaster and metal shear will have to be in the other room along with the polishing unit, but I think it is still workable. I had toyed with the idea of knocking out the wall, but I think I will try it the way it is for now. Besides, the house cost more than we were planning, so I won’t have construction money for a LONG time.

I need to change the lighting in the big room and add my ventilation, but other than that, it is pretty much ready to go. Oh, I guess I will tear out the carpet and paint the floor as well. I have a few ideas for the walls, but I think I am going to leave them pretty light this time, at least for now.

I would also like to see if it would be possible to get a natural gas line into the studio. That way I wouldn’t have to have a tank in my studio. I could get a natural gas/oxygen torch instead and work it with an oxygen concentrator. The problem with that is that the gas line is on the opposite side of the house. So I don’t know if it would be possible or cost effective to do it. But I do miss having a big torch.

New Tutorial

Well this new move is very exciting. We are hoping we are purchasing the 30-year house. This home is certainly a place where I am looking forward to raising my children. But this house comes with a fairly high price tag and I need to step things up a bit to help lighten the load. Plus I have some studio modifications to make.  So I have another tutorial that is just about finished. I am putting the final touches on it now.

Spinner Rings

spinner

People have asked me for a long time to write a tutorial on my spinner rings. It has been a very popular class and not everyone can take classes with me due to distance and such. So, you have seen some of my tutorials and videos, well this is just as in depth.

The spinner ring tutorial is an intermediate project. I do not go in depth on how to solder the ring. However, I do have a video that is a good introduction to soldering a ring band.

I was really hoping that I would be posting my tutorial tonight. However, home inspections and meetings with the realtor have kept me from accomplishing that. So I promise to have it out by Friday. Oh, and the cost on this tutorial is only $9.50. It is currently over 20 pages long with more than 60 images.

I also have a couple of more tutorials that I will have listed in the next two weeks. I even have some great tool reviews that I hope to have posted shortly. I have been playing with some really fun tools lately and I can’t wait to share my thoughts.

See you all in just a little bit.

Melissa

Tool Time Tuesday – Resurface Soldering Pads

There are many soldering surfaces out there that you can use to protect your table tops and help to aid the soldering process along. As you use them they can become dirty or pitted due to the use of flux. In my studio, I like to use a compressed charcoal block and Solderite soldering pads. The pads are great because they reflect the heat back onto the piece that I am working on. They can also be cut, broken, drilled and reshaped if needed.

resurfaced1

As I tend to use a lot of flux (call me the queen of flux,) my boards tend to get pitted and dirty fairly quickly. It would be a shame to just throw the boards away just because the top gets pitted or dirty. When I get to a point where I can no longer lay a flat piece of metal on my board because it will get stuck due to existing flux or dirty due to other objects on the board, I know it is time to resurface the board. This will work for both charcoal blocks and the soldering pads that I use in my studio.

Starting1

In the picture above I have 5 pads that are fairly well used. There are a couple of clean areas that I could use, so they wouldn’t all need to be resurfaced now. But since I am doing it, I might as well do them all.

resurfaceSolderingpad

 

I place the board face down on a concrete surface, in this case, it is my driveway. Then I put a little pressure on the board and move it around in a figure 8 pattern.FirstPass

After just a few figure 8’s you can see that I have a much cleaner surface. But I am not done yet. Place it back down and do a few more. I check it after every 3 or 4 figure 8’s. Done

This is the same pad as above. You can see that I didn’t remove it all. I could have kept going, but those pits were a little deeper than I wanted to go. I now have about 95% of my surface clean and that works well for me.

Resurfacedpads

Yes, it does make a mess. I like to sweep up most of the dust and just throw it in the garbage bin. You can then wash off the side walk or allow for nature to do that for you. Living in the Great Northwest, I let nature take care of it.

Things to consider if you do this:

  • Work outside – The dust particles can be very messy and just not something I want to have to deal with in my studio.
  • Don’t sit downwind – Yes, I made this mistake when starting this tutorial. The lighting was better if I did sit downwind, however, I was very quickly covered in the dust, and it didn’t exactly feel too good when I accidentally got a nose full either.
  • Wear a mask – Even though I was working outside, it is best if you wear some kind of respirator. The best would be a nice heavy duty one with filters, but even a painters mask is better than nothing.
  • Wear an apron and rubber gloves – This isn’t necessary, but it sure helps keep you a bit cleaner.

Tool Time Tuesday – Steel Texture Dies for the Hydraulic Press

Again, I wanted to thank you all so much for your love and support of me in raising funds for the preeclampsia foundation. Through the website there was $480 pledged. I sold 6 Wire Angel Tutorials and 100% of that was donated for a total of $540. I also know of a few others that ran into difficulties with the website and have said they would send their money in. So with the money I donated we raised a total $680. They called me the Rock Star since I came “out of now where and raised all that money so quickly.” Thanks for making me a Rock Star. The Portland area had a goal of $7,000 and we raised over $10,000. My original goal was only $100 and look what you helped accomplish. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Donations can still be made to Kelsi’s Angels Team through July. Thank you again. I was very touched.

Are you ready for Tool Time Tuesday?

Yesterday I got a package in the mail. I LOVE getting those. People should send me more of them, especially when they contain new tools. So feel free, should you get the urge, to send me packages of new tools. In fact, while I was typing this, the UPS man just dropped off another package with some press accessories and a hammer handpiece for my flexshaft. WOOT!

Potter USA announced on their Facebook page that they had come up with some new embossing plates. They had tried their hand at embossing plates once before, but they were done entirely differently and they didn’t really work well. The original texturing plates were cut out with a laser cutter and while they looked great, they didn’t give a great impression and they only worked for thin sheets of metal, like less than 24 gauge. These plates work the opposite way from the originals. The originals can be thought of as detailed silhouette dies where the shape is cut out and the metal is pressed into the cutout. These dies are solid with raised designs. When you press the metal into the designs, they press down, but are also shaped all the way through, not just with negative space.

Currently there are five shapes available. When I spoke with Kevin yesterday, he informed me that they have some other shapes that are in the design process right now, but they will be added gradually over time. There will be additional geometric and abstract shapes as well as others with some flowing designs.

The currently available shapes are a diamond pattern, spiral, wave, arc and corrugated. I don’t know that those are the names of them, but it is what I call them. They are made of steel. They have each been precision milled and are actually quite thick.


These are not designed to work with the rolling mill. However, if you want to use one of the designs in the rolling mill, I would suggest making a texture plate in the press and then rolling that through your mill.

Because these are new, there wasn’t a lot of information on the best thicknesses of metal to use with them, so I decided to try an experiment. I have various thicknesses of metal in my shop, so I cut up multiple pieces to try them all out.

texturetest

The dies are used with the embossing contained urethane kit from Potter USA. It is just like the contained urethane system they have, only it is square. The urethane used is a small square and only 1/4″ thick. I believe it is 80 durometer, so it is not the hardest one.

The top row of samples is 20 gauge (except for the top spiral one, it is 18 gauge.) I was going to try all of them with 14, 18, 20, 22, and 24 gauge. However, once I tried the one with the 18 gauge, I could easily see that I was NOT going to do 14 gauge. The impression in the 18 gauge was there, but it was light and took a lot of pressure to get it there.

I know it is possible to get a really good impression with 14 and 18 gauge, but it was a LOT of pressure and I felt my time and money would be better spent working with thinner materials.

All metals were annealed and pickled first.

I was fairly happy with the impression that I got with 20 gauge. I would love to show you some pictures, but they didn’t show up really well and you couldn’t see much of the difference between the gauges in my pictures due to the lighting. But that was only in the pictures. When you hold the pieces in your hand or look at them in person, you can totally see the difference.

20 gauge gave a great impression, the metal sunk into the relief and curved nicely in the grooves or depressions. The raised areas created crisp lines on the side where they made contact. On the opposite side, the lines were soft, but fairly defined.

22 gauge got me even more excited. The lines on the back of the piece were more defined and ridges were sharper. On the front side (where the metal made contact with the die) the piece seemed to curve or puff beautifully. I don’t know how else to describe it. I loved it.

24 gauge had me smiling from ear to ear. The metal seemed to just bond itself with the die filling the depressions and hugging the lines until they became one. In fact, I had to drop the piece on my table top to get them to release from their tight embrace.

It is hard to see all details, so I gave them all a bath in Liver of Sulfur. I would show them all to you after, but I could only find a small piece of steel wool and didn’t get them all finished. But look at this…..

withpatina

In the picture above my camera flash gives a head on shot of the pieces filling the crevices with light. Also the top left piece is turned so that it is sitting the same way as the top right piece.

withpatina2

In the above picture I flipped the top left piece so you can see the opposite texture. Once i added the patina and the light hit these things I was SOOOO excited. Look how the shadows play on these. There are so many possibilities.

Oh, there is a bonus piece on there. You know how much I love swirls. So I thought I would create one of my own textures to see how it would work. I used 12 gauge wire, swirled it up, soldered it together and placed it in the die holder to see how it would work, and there you have it. I absolutely love having a press. This tool has made it so that I can have the depth and dimension that I have always desired to have in my pieces.

Here is what it looks like:

emboss

I found that I gave these a lot more pressure than I do when I am working with a silhouette die. Most of these were taken to at least 4,000 psi. This last one, I took to 5,000 psi and actually popped the metal on one of the swirl ends. But look at the depth of the impressions. Can you imagine? Fill them with resin or even enamels. You couldn’t do that with the thinner texture plates currently available. Color them with alcohol inks, run the metal through a mill or sand blaster first to give them a bit of texture. Really, my mind is just racing with the possibilities. Because this is Potter USA, you can also be assured that they will be affordable. I haven’t heard the final pricing on these yet, but I would
bet they will be around $30 or less. It just depends on the amount of milling that needs to be done.

I have created a video, of course I have, but it is still rendering. I will post that a bit later tonight or tomorrow when I get it posted to my YouTube Page. So be on the look out for that.

Thank You!!!!

I wanted to post quickly to say THANK YOU to all of you that have supported me these past few years. I got into really doing jewelry just after Kelsi passed away. It has been something that has helped me quite a bit in the process of healing.

I am so touched by the kindness and generosity of my blog readers. The Preeclampsia Promise Walk is tomorrow morning. I only set up my team yesterday afternoon. I figured I would give myself a goal of $100. I knew I could raise that much because I intended on donating at least that amount myself. I never dreamed that I would be able to donate more than 5 times that amount. Each new donation brought tears to my eyes and love to my heart. Several of you have also placed orders for the Wire Angel Tutorial and I will be donating 100% of that to the foundation tomorrow.

You know who you are and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I know that times are tough economically right now and it isn’t possible for everyone to give a monetary donation. I am so grateful for the emotional support that you all continue to give me as I deal with anniversaries and other emotions that crop up from time to time.

There is still time to donate and no amount is too small. I believe our team page will be up for a little while, though I am not sure how long. The Kelsi’s Angels Team Page.

My dream is that one day every woman will know about preeclampsia and will never have to go through what I have. Too many mothers and babies die each year. Too many lives are affected because of it and I hope that all of this brings us one step closer to a cure and prevention.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you.

~Melissa~

For A Great Cause

Many of you know the reason behind the name of my company, Kelsi’s Closet Jewelbox, but some of you may not. Kelsi is my second daughter. She was born 16 weeks early, yes, really. She weighed only 13 oz. and was 8 1/2″ long. My sweet baby came out crying and it shattered the silence in the OR. None of us expected to hear a sound. Why was she born so soon? I had developed Preeclampsia, a condition that happens only in pregnancy. Some cases are far more severe than others. I was already a preeclampsia survivor and I had no idea that it could take the life of a baby, or mother for that matter, but it does, and it did for me. Kelsi_foot

I am a very fortunate person to be sitting at my computer typing this out at this very moment. I was very sick and my liver was beginning to shut down. But I recovered. I have many friends who have not recovered. I have friends that went into seizures, heart, liver and kidney failure. Some have had strokes and sadly, I have lost a few friends, and there are many others that I have never known who have lost their lives to Preeclampsia.

momDad
I have had four children. I have had preeclampsia twice and I would have had it with my last baby had we not delivered her at 29 weeks. But it was right there and the doctor saw no need for me to suffer through it again.

My sweet angel Kelsi did not survive. But by sharing our experience, other babies and mothers have. People may get sick of me talking about it, but I vow that no mother will have to go through what I did because of a lack of knowledge because I didn’t share.

Angel_Funeral2

This weekend the Preeclampsia Foundation is having one of their annual walks in Portland. It is on Saturday. I didn’t realize the date was so close, so I am getting a very late start on things, but I have set up a team: Kelsi’s Angels. I have set a goal to raise $100, though I would really hope that I might be able to do more than that. If you are able, it is a great cause to support.  Donations can be made at: The Kelsi’s Angels Team Page.

You may already be aware, but I also donate a portion of the sales from the Wire Angel Tutorial that I created in honor of Kelsi. So it is also another great way to support the PE Foundation.

Wire_Angel_Tutorial

Thank you all for your support.

Tool Time Tuesday – Using a Swage Block

You might all recall that my Father-In-Law made me the most beautiful black walnut swage blocks, well, not everyone knows how to use them. I have to admit that when I learned how to use them I was relieved as I had already bought two different ones and didn’t know what they were for. I think there are a lot of people out there that are the same, or so I hear. Either they already have a block and have no idea what to do with it, or they haven’t bought it because they don’t know what it is used for.

swageblock


Swage blocks are used for many different things, but I use them to form round shapes from flat pieces of metal with my hammers. Look at the banner on my blog. That lily sitting up there was formed with a swage block. The lily is the same project I created for the Art Jewelry Magazine a few years back. In fact, the video for this Tool Time Tuesday shows how to create the beginning form for the lily.

Swage blocks are also known as forming or grooved blocks. There are various types and shapes out there as well as different materials. My first blocks were made of steel. I also have a block made of delrin (a type of plastic.) Depending on the block I use, I change the type of hammer to form the metal. If I use a metal block, I use a nylon hammer. If I use a delrin or wooden block, I use a metal hammer. Now, that isn’t always the case. Sometimes I use a metal hammer with a metal block. But the thing you have to know is that when you use a metal hammer with a metal block, you are going to risk stretching the metal as the metal you are forming compresses between the steel of the hammer and block. You also get a lot more tool marks that way. So it just depends on the look I am after when it comes to choosing my forming tools.

Without further ado, here is my tutorial and video on how to use a swage block. I hope this helps those of you that may have questions on what a swage block is and how to use it. As always, if you still have further questions, feel free to contact me any time.

 

Getting Better

Thank you all for your encouragement after my last “floundering” blog post. I really appreciate it. Things are still up in the air in so many facets of life, but things are getting better. We do the final closing on our house in Ohio this week and that will be one less thing to worry about. Although, we realized just how much a pay cut my husband took when we moved here, and let’s just say that you could buy a nice car with that amount. UGH! But it is worth not having him work the night shift anymore, so I won’t complain too loudly.

Last week my dad had another surgery on his foot. My baby (Miss Fussy Pants, aka, Kiari) and I flew out on Monday to hang out with him for a few days. It was so nice to be out there and to just relax, well, relax as much as possible with one of the fussiest babies on the planet, that is. My youngest brother even watched her for a couple of hours so I could have a rare pedicure and really have a moment of relaxation. I was able to do lunch with a good friend of mine and we chatted about EVERYTHING from swimming with dolphins to jewelry making to life’s problems and wonders. It was refreshing! Thank you for the love and encouragement Kim, the timing was PERFECT!

I flew home first thing Friday morning and went from the airport to the Oregon Convention Center where the Creative Metals and Art Guild have joined with several other guilds in the area to put on their annual Meeting of the Guilds Art Show. It was AMAZING!!!!! I only had time to see the booths for the CMAG members, but it was FANTASTIC. It was everything that I hope for the Ohio JMAG to be able to do. I am so excited to be a part of this guild and have the opportunity for my skills to grow once again.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to take my hydraulic press and do some demonstrations for about 3 hours. I met so many great people and of course the purple press was a HIT! I was also able to meet one of my long time blog readers from Las Vegas. She had no idea I was going to be there either. So that was a lot of fun. There were a lot of people interested in classes and I am excited to say, I have just finished my class line up and will be posting that in a couple of days. Classes will start in about 2 weeks. I have really missed teaching and am excited to get back into it.

Riley (my oldest) came with me yesterday and she helped out with the kids craft. It was so fun to watch her work and show kids how to emboss thin sheets of metal with little wooden dowels. She was really cute with the kids and they were all happy to walk away with a pin or magnet. Also, I think the adults had more fun than the kids did. I think I saw more adults doing the project than kids at the booth. LOL.

I am happy to say that I just finished my latest video. I demonstrate how to use the swage block. I know that some people can pick up what I was saying from the written tutorials alone, but others also do well with visual learning and hopefully this will help those of you that need that. So watch your in boxes this week as I will finally have a Tool Time Tuesday. Boy it sure seems a long time since we have had those. I recorded several videos last week before heading off to Utah, so I just need to finish editing them and will have several weeks worth of TTT posts. See you all soon!

~Melissa~